(1 to 100 of 141 replies)
Chris Camargo 1:23am, 11 December 2009
Hey Strobists,

So I was just turned on to Dan Winters work from David Hobby's recent post about the "Candid Frame" interview. I was instantly enamored.

When looking through the work available on his website, I was fixated on Dan's portrait of Tom Hanks. It's been 24 hours since I first saw it, and I still can't stop looking at it (yeah, I probably should see someone about that). I was curious to see if anyone else knew how exactly this one was lit. Hobby, feel free to speak up if you know.

Here's what I'm getting from the picture:
Looks like a total of 3 lights. The main key coming from above camera right. Possibly modified with a snoot? I'm not sure, the falloff seems too soft. The background light is extremely soft and understated, maybe in a softbox? Difficult to tell where. And finally, the third light looks like it might be a ring light. The giveaway is the highlight on Hanks' ear. Looks very direct and ring flash-y to me.

What do you guys think? Are we close here?


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(1 to 100 of 141 replies)
ChrisVPhoto 6 years ago
No.


But that's just my opinion.
danette5 6 years ago
Hmmm my 2 cents. A beauty dish above for main light and a light on the background. I'm not sure that there is a 3rd source. The ear could be lit using a reflector.

I love the shot.
jonstars 6 years ago
You are right with 3 lights.

The main light is most likely a gridded (20ºish) head. @f13ish
Fill could be a ring light, which Winters uses a lot, or a softbox behind him, f6.7ish
And there is definitely a strobe on the back wall, just a regular one, but close enough to the wall that there is significant fall off. so, probably f9.5.

Try it out on someone if you have the lights to do it. This is what it looks like to me with my experience, but it could be a lot more complex, especially coming from some of Winters other work.

Happy hunting!
jonstars 6 years ago
And just another thought for the main light after closer inspection.

The main light could be a beauty dish, but if it is, the light is flagged like hell to keep the fall off neat and tidy. I say this because there is a softer fall off on the left side of Hanks' nose then what would occur with gridded head.
Chris Camargo 6 years ago
@ChrisValitesPhoto: Thanks for adding value.

@danette5: The shot really is amazing. I'd agree with you on the reflector if the highlights on the ridges of his ear weren't so uniform. But like jonstars says, that Winters does love him some ring light.

@jonstars: I took a second look and realized the same thing. That nose shadow just isn't hard enough for direct light, snooted or gridded. That being said, any recommendations on a beauty dish I can strap to my Vivitar 285s? ;D

Also, is it just me or is there some kind of slight highlight on the camera left side of his forehead, just below the hairline? That's not another light from camera left, is it?
timmui 6 years ago
Small beauty dish on Tom's 10 o'clock feathered onto his face. Large reflector on his right. One light to create the background.
Chris Camargo Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Chris Camargo (member) 6 years ago
Hey timmui. Again, I think there's a ring light at play here. Notice how there's a shadow both below his ear and inside the ear lobe? There's some light coming directly from the lens making that happen.

I still can't explain the mystery highlight on the side of his forehead.
Don Giannatti (aka wizwow) Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Don Giannatti (aka wizwow) (member) 6 years ago
Dan Winters and a ring light?
Hmmm... skeptical as hell on that.

Small head with diffusion close to the background to give what we call a 'spray light'.

Overall ambient with a large softbox or umbrella. High to maintain shadows under chin and jacket lapel. Flagged to create fall off on jacket with flags very close to Hanks.

Grid or soft spot to the camera right - high and aimed a bit down on Hanks to create the soft shadows on nose and lips... slightly brighter than ambient.

Carefully placed fill card for face only.

That's how I would do it anyway.
ChrisVPhoto 6 years ago
It isn't a ringlight. Dan Winters is all about soft light, and a ring is not going to help him do that.
rwhitbread 6 years ago
You've gpt shadow fall on his right shoulder that is direaly in line with his head...(90 degree left to camera axis - ambient lght perhaps?).

Catch lights in his eyes show a light source directly into his face, as does the flash highlight in the tip of the nose. Could be a softbox feathered to give off that flagging look. (Or ot could be a flag ;-))

Spray light as WizWow pointed out.

Great shot.
I used to wonder why Winters would put those heavy coats on his subjects, till I realised it's all about the face. The face is the subject and nothing should detract from that.

Either that or he has a thing about heavy coats.
Chuck Loncki [deleted] 6 years ago
i'll say:

*softbox 90 degrees camera right - placed high & fairly close.
(shadow going down middle of photo & nose)

*another softbox 60 degrees camera right - placed slightly up & a little further away.
(see lipline shadow & under the nose)

*a slightly harsher light 45 degrees right - low power & face level.
(double shadow on nostril)

*bounce for fill on the left or very low power pop.

be advised: i dunno what the hell i'm talking about... but if ya mark the shadows in PS, you'll see 3 of em and a general direction.
im not a pro but my guess is a grid light as main with soft box as fill on the same side maybe f8 on the main and 5.6 on the fill. background could be 7 or so feet away with another light say f8 as well?
K e n B r o w n 6 years ago
Uhh, as I knew it, he's used a ring flash. Maybe not in this portrait but in others.
Spencer H. 6 years ago
ChrisValitesPhoto
Dan Winters, without question, uses a ring light in his portraiture work. He also uses bare bulb. These things don't always product hard shadows when used to fill soft ones...
jbardinphoto 6 years ago
@Spencer H. - Yes, and DH corroborates. He mentioned Dan Winters' twice in his ring light posts on strobist.com
Ringlight... yes.
But not in this type of portrait.

When Winters uses a ringlight, it looks like a ring light.

This is not a ringlight looking shot.
Spencer H. 6 years ago
To clarify, I don't know what he used for this shot... I was just pointing out that he does in fact, use ring lights in his portraiture work despite him being 'all about soft light'.
JPShooter Posted 6 years ago. Edited by JPShooter (member) 6 years ago
I too love this shot.

I've gone to Dan's website and looked at a number of other portraits of his, mostly the few done in this style. He definately uses ring flash in some of his work.

I would suggest going to his site and looking at the portrait of Shia Labeouf (it's the fourth shot from the left on the film strip). In his left eye you can see the ringlight. I am not sure why the ring does not show in Tom's eyes, but I suspect that the technique was the same for Shia's and Tom's portraits.

I've been playing for a few hours this morning attempting to replicate the lighting. I've gotten close, but no cigar I'm afraid.

I am still pondering how he has gotten such a soft wrap around effect on the face with such control over the spill while having a catchlight that would suggest a small and distant light source.
Spencer H. 6 years ago
It seems as I remember from somewhere that he tends to spend more time removing light than applying light... i.e. that he probably uses a lot of flags/negative fill cards.
Chris Camargo Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Chris Camargo (member) 6 years ago
@Wizwow: I think we can put the ring light debate to bed. The highlights and shadows on Hanks' ear tell us that there is indeed a ring flash in play here that's acting as a subtle on-axis fill.

I'm still unsure about that possible 4th light (forehead), however... I'd say it was a reflector, but what's it reflecting? It looks as if that source is coming from above camera left. At that angle there isn't another light pointed towards it if it is a reflector.

Is it possible that the background light is actually above camera left, between Hanks and the camera, with a bit of light spilling onto his forehead?
snorkie128 6 years ago
Allow me to be the first jackass to attempt to replicate the shot. I used a small softbox close and a little high from camera right, and initially I had a mono bouncing off a card at camera left. It was not giving me the highlights in the ear and temple, so I stuck in a 580EX with a Ray Flash, and I must say that that combo did give a similar effect in the ear and forehead. The results to follow this weekend. While I did not achieve all the elements (and Tom was busy this morning), it was interesting to break down the lighting and give it a shot.
Chris Camargo 6 years ago
@snorkie128 Thanks for the assist! I'm eager to see how yours came out.
snorkie128 6 years ago
While I'm not implying that I replicated the Winters image, I think I managed to show that the Ray Flash could be used to achieve a similar ringflash-as-fill look from the Hanks photo. I initially bounced a mono off some foamcore at camera left, but did not get the wanted highlights on the temple and ear. There are definitely issues (ie nose shadow, cropping, flagging, etc), but I was relatively happy with the exercise of deconstructing the lighting in the Hanks photo. Any comments are appreciated.

Autumn Attempt
Ian_Hay 6 years ago
Winters definitely frequently uses ring flash as shadow fill in many of his portraits. If you have a copy of Periodical Photographs, you can see in the large prints the obvious small circular catchlight in a number of his images, most noticably in Laura Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, Debbie Harry, Barak Obama, among others. (I'm excluding the ones that were obviously ring-flash lit as main light, e.g. Angelina Jolie). I've looked a bit closer at the Hanks photo, and it's not so obvious, and the shadows are pretty deep. But I think it's a reasonable inference.
DavidOfBristol Posted 6 years ago. Edited by DavidOfBristol (member) 6 years ago
I say a straight grid spot for the key light - yes, it appears quite soft, but used close-in it would be.

Another way this could have been achieved could have been a more specialist tool like this:

www.parkcameras.com/9007/Bowens-BW-1866-Grid-Diffuser-for...

Basically, it's a beauty dish with a harder, but still fairly soft, grided source in the middle with much softer, dramatically falling-off light around that.

I have to say I really do like this portrait of Hanks - it's lovely.
John Adkins II 6 years ago
snorkie128 ..not a bad attempt, I bet if you dialed that ring flash down another stop or two, you'd be even closer
Chris Camargo 6 years ago
The subtle quality of this lighting means that his control over ratios is probably far greater than mine could ever be with a set of Vivitars... Still. I want to try.
snorkie128 6 years ago
John, I agree, the ringflash was a little hot. I'm still intrigued by how Winters gridded the key, and yet he allows the light to spill all along the jacket, while cutting the hair.
Ian_Hay 6 years ago
Snorkie - in the interview that DH linked to the other day, I believe the interviewer recounted some workshop or seminar that Winters had guest attended and did some lighting setups for the students. One thing the interviewer noted was the time and effort that Winters put into flagging off light from various parts of the image. From the way the interviewer described it, it sounded like there were more carefully placed flags than lights in the setup he did.

It's possible that he took the same kind of deliberate approach in flagging off light in the above Hanks portrait.

All part of Winters' mojo.
snorkie128 6 years ago
IanHay, I had not heard that, but it looks quite apparent. Clearly Winters enjoys flagging and control the lighting............probably to piss off/intrique other photogs.
ChrisVPhoto 6 years ago
Or, you know, create sweet pictures. That too.
snorkie128 6 years ago
Yeah, probably some of that as well.
John Adkins II Posted 6 years ago. Edited by John Adkins II (member) 6 years ago
Where's DH when you need him? I bet he could pick this apart. =)
zEWdio 6 years ago
Window to camera right
zEWdio 6 years ago
PS. I'd bet money this is a 1 light setup with a reflector and flags.
snorkie128 6 years ago
Not with the effect on his right ear. I'd bet your money on it.
John Adkins II Posted 6 years ago. Edited by John Adkins II (member) 6 years ago
I see two distinct shadows on Tom's nose. A soft one coming down at about 7 o'clock, and another slightly harder one coming off at 9 o'clock. My guess is three lights, one on the background for that nice gradient, a softbox camera right and up high at 45 and maybe slightly behind, and another gridded light from camera right almost at the height of his head.

I just can't see a ring light in this due to how dark his right shoulder (camera left) is. Just my two cents though.

..oh yeah, and probably a reflector camera left.
snorkie128 6 years ago
He is excellent at controlling his light, and that is part of what makes the images so interesting.
mr-chompers 6 years ago
What throws me off is the sharpness of his lapel shadows, when it's seemingly lit from the same light as the face, which has much softer shadows, especially from the nose. Is it possible that light is a gridded spot, with a diffusion finger or dot right in front of the face? That would give you a hard spot with a soft core. I mean the placement would have to be perfect, but it's the only way I can think of getting a hard lapel shadow with a soft nose shadow from seemingly the same light.
christianritchie 6 years ago
I just hope that, somehow, Hanks gets to see this dialogue. How poeple are scrutinizing the shadows in his right ear. I think he would be amused, or a little creeped out.

Carry on.
John Adkins II Posted 6 years ago. Edited by John Adkins II (member) 6 years ago
Ok, here's my attempt. I wrote a lengthy description on how I did it so I'm not going to repost in the thread, but you can click through to the shot.

Needless to say, I cussed a bit and Dan Winters is THE MAN!

Self Portrait No. 42 a-la Dan Winters
mr-chompers 6 years ago
You got the ratios right, but not that shadows. Your lapel shadows are softer than his, and you are lacking the nose shadow he had. The nose shadow comes from a light further away than yours, but tightly controlled. I'm still only confused on the change from soft in the face, to hard on the lapels. all the other positioning is possible through good old fashioned flagging to keep it off other areas.

I'm 60% sure it's a gridded softbox with flags keeping it off his hair and outer image areas with a 1/4 diffusion dot positioned to soften only the face portion, and 40% sure it's two lights, flagged to be soft on his face, and the 2nd hard on his jacket. Would be super easy to take two and composite, hard for one, soft for the other, but Winters doesn't strike me as the compositing type for this kind of thing.
Ian_Hay 6 years ago
John, it doesn't matter whether you hit Dan Winters' lighting or not. That, sir, is a damned beautifully lit portrait.
John Adkins II 6 years ago
Mr-chompers, I agree about the shadows, and I looked at this and tweaked the lights it seems like a 1000 times before I threw in the towel.

I still like the shot even if its not exactly like Dan Winters'.

Thanks Ian! :)
MikePerrault 6 years ago
Can you post a link to the description in your blog John? Really nice work
John Adkins II 6 years ago
Mike, if you click this link, it will take you directly to the photo with the full description...

www.flickr.com/photos/foto71/4186055308/

thanks for the comment!
Chris Camargo 6 years ago
John,

Stellar work, my man. That is a great attempt, and like IanHay said, a well lit portrait any way you slice it. I'll have to give it a go while I have this precious holiday time off.
lowflash (Brian) 6 years ago
John Adkins II,

You know, I think I like yours better. Seriously.
John Adkins II 6 years ago
Thanks guys! Chris, I'll be interested to see what you come up with. I was hoping a few more might try this.
100kph 6 years ago
Ok here is my try of a self portrait . The key light is CR, a hard, 32deg grid, to avoid contamination, the fill is CL, and is a softbox the background is a snoot from behind me.

of course i am neither a good photographer as dan winters, and not a good model as tom hanks .



"Ady's imitation of Dan Winers shoot of tom hanks"
click flick [deleted] 6 years ago
more beard, minus the tee, denim, and a grim as hell look.

otherwise a decent try ady.
leus Posted 6 years ago. Edited by leus (member) 6 years ago
I see two light sources from the left pointing to the subject's face. One is really far and well above --this is the one that gives the "falling" shadow from the nose and the coat's collar; and another, softer, at eye level and closer to the camera, that points just to the side of Tom's face, and gives the softer but less oblique shadow from the little hair the guy still has in his forehead :-) This may be bounced light, thought.

There is also a very dim light from the left, I guess right beside the camera, gelled to make it colder. It may be also a silver reflector.

I don't know how the photographer achieved the "painting" effect on the background (irregular cloth? plaster wall?) but I just love it.
mr-chompers 6 years ago
All these attempts are really nice portraits in their own, but the lighting engineer in me wants to know how in the world he managed to make the main light seemingly go from soft to hard. For instance in 100kph's example, his nose shadows is quite hard edged, whereas the Hanks portrait is soft, but the sharp lapel shadows speak of a harsh light.

It's not super important to know exactly how to copy, I want to know because it seems the man just has an insane control of light, and I'd love to know how he did it for ideas of hard to soft lighting sources for my own work. I emailed him asking but have yet to get a reply.
Jim Lafferty Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Jim Lafferty (member) 6 years ago
It could be two separate sources right of subject, one soft (over), one hard (under), flagged so as not to spill on the face.

Or... it could be a flagged hard source hitting the torso from the right, then a soft fill near axis hitting only the face to create the soft shadows there (this is my guess).
100kph 6 years ago
ok thats because i used a hard light. I could not find that diffuser i had (lost it on home shifting)
But i am sure dan winters has the best best retouchers in the world. You cant discount post in this image
Jim Lafferty Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Jim Lafferty (member) 6 years ago
Everything about light is elemental, once you figure out the elements, "insane control" starts to become more obvious. There's several ways to skin a cat but also only so many tools that are employed by working pros generally. Once you embrace both these ideas, there's nothing you can't light like someone else (or dream up a style all your own).

So... you know hard edged light is a fast source, but this is typically: the sun, a fresnel, a bare head, a gridded head, a zoom spot, a beauty dish.

Soft-edged light is a diffuse source, so you know that's generally: a shoot through umbrella, a softbox, an octa, hard light through silk or bounced.

The rest is simply figuring out directionality, understanding ratios and controlling spill, and deciding how much of your subject and their context you want covered.
Jim Lafferty 6 years ago
Yes, you can NEVER discount post. And you should never discount it in your own work. Any great image straight from cam is always even greater with judiciously applied post.
H-Dub 6 years ago
Dodge and burn?
Jim Lafferty Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Jim Lafferty (member) 6 years ago
One thing everyone should be paying attention to, and for me it is the "Achilles heel" of "the strobist" mentality, is that when you're relying on low-powered, small sources, to get a good exposure at, say, f/8 you're parking your sources practically on your subjects.

Well, the drawback of this is that it amplifies relative distances, so hotspots and shadows get out of whack. In other words, if the distance between your subject and your key light is relatively small... then the distance between their forehead, nose and chin (from a lighting perspective) is actually quite large relative to their size. So you get these weird fluctuations in exposure -- anything forward of the eyes tends to get hot quickly -- and shadows fall off too quickly. You get these "contrasty" images that, while they may look good on an iPhone and in general are exciting early on, the style soon wears thin and starts to be repetitive to a sharper eye.

The only solution, unfortunately, is a higher powered light moved further from the subject.
Jim Lafferty 6 years ago
Dodge and burn?

Absolutely. But on two separate curves layers with layer masks, never on the image and NEVER with the Dodge & Burn tools :)

I think Annie L. and many of who I regard as the top photographers out there owe a lot of their look to artful use of d'n'b and composite exposures.
mr-chompers Posted 6 years ago. Edited by mr-chompers (member) 6 years ago
Fill can never soften shadow edges, it can only fill them, hence the name. So you can reduce ratio between shadow core and lit area, but the transition's harsh or softness is completely based on apparent light size. That's why having a (seemingly) single source go from soft shadow edges to hard shadow edges is pretty nifty.

Dan Winters doesn't strike me as the type to composite two images, or go to the trouble of having some face shadows blurred on the edge in post. Sure it's possible, and probably easier than whatever he did use, but I'm highly dubious it wasn't captured 95%+ in camera.

Two sources is possible, but you'd have to flag both edges very carefully, I'm thinking it's one source with some crazy changing in mid beam. Either a fabric scrim for the top, flagged again to keep it off the hair, or a silk dot, or a softbox with the diffuser half on for the soft face and half off for the sharp lapel shadows.

As you can tell from my numerous posts it's driving me crazy. I will have to construct a silk dot this weekend and see how possible this is, as I think it's the most likely, but I don't know how much a dot can diffuse light.
mr-chompers 6 years ago
Anyone here worked with dots before? can a 1/4 stop or white silk actually diffuse much? I'm guessing the distance between the light and subject has a lot to do with it, and does it mess with the catchlight? Luckily a coat hanger and some white nylon will construct a good enough dot to experiment.
marcandrelariviere 6 years ago
John Adkins II, you're the man! I love your shoot.

Dan Winters shot is really cool too... damn, I feel jealous! lol
azulOx Posted 6 years ago. Edited by azulOx (member) 6 years ago
Like most good threads, this is useless without more pictures. So here is my addition.

Winters-Recreate

I spent maybe 10 minutes in post. I live in South Texas, so i don't have a pea coat in my closet....thats black fleece around my right shoulder.

Lighting setup is in my photo description:
Strobist info:

Camera is at f8 and 1/125 - to let a little ambient in.

Key Light is LQ SBIII - at 1/16 power 430ex. at 24mm. Light is within Arms reach of me, pointing down slightly.
BG Light is a 430ex on the floor at 1/64 power.

Silver 30 inch reflector in my right hand point up and at me.
triggered with cyber syncs.

desaturation and slight burning/dodging in post.
Jim Lafferty 6 years ago
Fill can never soften shadow edges, it can only fill them, hence the name.

Yes, revised for clarity. Thanks!
AMutanen 6 years ago
I tried this one as well. Sorry no pictures here yet.
My conclusion this far is the face light looks too soft to be anything smaller than a small beauty dish. Tom Hanks is not 18 and the skin looks quite smooth and low contrast.
I tried a gridded reflector, diffuser over reflector and a small strip box also. BD was the closest.

To my eyes it looks the lapels have double shadows.
The first one is hard edged like a grid spot and it's quite hard to see the hardness of the "inner" other one.
It also looks like the contrast between the two shadows diminishes towards the subject right shoulder suggesting the harder source is further away.
Some sources like a standard reflector give double shadows on their own but another explanation would be there is another light (grid spot) behind the main light to bring up the dark coat.
Most of the Winters portraits have only key+fill and carefully placed flags so maybe the "coat light theory" is bit far fetched.
Jim Lafferty 6 years ago
I think we're all overthinking this :)
aaron2005 [deleted] Posted 6 years ago. Edited by aaron2005 (member) 6 years ago
"I think we're all overthinking this :) "

I agree to the extent that this thread needs more images and less postulation. Threads like these are what I enjoy most about this group. No one has come close to John Adkins' attempt.

When I get done with a bunch of post work I'm going to give it a try.

And Dan Winters uses ring flash and beauty dish all the time.
AMutanen 6 years ago
[https://www.flickr.com/photos/amutanen/4191728905/]
i made this to test my hard edge lapel shadow theory and show the results.
i don't have that kind of heavy coat and I'm also missing the background light.
The light is BD at eye level, grid spot above the BD and ring fill. If I indeed had a black coat with large lapels the double shadow would not be so visible and I assume it would look more like the original.

For me there is no way to overthink good light. Any attempt may lead to a new way to create a portrait and/or solve a new lighting problem.
John's brilliant portrait is a good example of this.
AMutanen 6 years ago
So now I got some background light in to make the total effect. It's not winters, not even close but I will use this light to make a portrait of someone.
It's 4 light total. BD key, grid spot for added spark, ring for fill and umbrella for background.
The ring fill does not do much here but as long as it was on my camera I left it on at low power.
3 flags: 1 to keep BG spill under control, 1 to lower the BD effect on the shirt, 1 small one to tone down BD on the hair.
Winters seems to use more flagging between the key and the face.

[https://www.flickr.com/photos/amutanen/4192065347/]

Maybe Winters does not even use the second key grid spot but at least from now on it's a new tool in my bag to add some subtle pop into a face shot.
mike bernardo 6 years ago
I remember seeing this shot of Dan using a ring:

3.bp.blogspot.com/_95zK4_kkwU4/SnSEAem_5ZI/AAAAAAAABUY/qy...
DaddysAgeek 6 years ago
One window light and a team of Photoshop experts who quit working for Annie Leibovitz.
danfloorjustice 6 years ago
this thread makes me laugh
Jon_Senior 6 years ago
Here's a possiblity that I've not seen mentioned so far... A focussed spot. It would be possible to have it in focus on the lapel (hard shadow) and out of focus on the face (soft shadow). Not saying that this was what happened, but it might be a possibility.
lowflash (Brian) Posted 6 years ago. Edited by lowflash (Brian) (member) 6 years ago
Re: Below
Yes, exactly, and more powerful instruments allow larger modifiers further away, and further away allows using scrims and silks between the light and the subject to modify the light.

Jim Lafferty Pro User says::

One thing everyone should be paying attention to, and for me it is the "Achilles heel" of "the strobist" mentality, is that when you're relying on low-powered, small sources, to get a good exposure at, say, f/8 you're parking your sources practically on your subjects.

Well, the drawback of this is that it amplifies relative distances, so hotspots and shadows get out of whack. In other words, if the distance between your subject and your key light is relatively small... then the distance between their forehead, nose and chin (from a lighting perspective) is actually quite large relative to their size. So you get these weird fluctuations in exposure -- anything forward of the eyes tends to get hot quickly -- and shadows fall off too quickly. You get these "contrasty" images that, while they may look good on an iPhone and in general are exciting early on, the style soon wears thin and starts to be repetitive to a sharper eye.

The only solution, unfortunately, is a higher powered light moved further from the subject.
Jim Lafferty 6 years ago
Here's a possiblity that I've not seen mentioned so far... A focussed spot.

That's funny. I showed this to another photographer, and he said he thought it was a bare head... then sat and looked at the shot some more and had a lot of other theories based on the key/fill ratio, the shadows and the highlights.

In the end he just said "I dunno man, it's a weird photo." :D
Spencer H. 6 years ago
Unless he's trying to mislead, he ain't compositing. He's shooting print film here... Though it's interesting that we see a positive, where 160VC is negative film.

All I (probably) know is that there is a lot of flagging and or as a previous poster mentioned, focusing of the light going on here.
Mr. Ogalthorpe 6 years ago
I used three lights:

1 - 540EZ with stofen on the background
2 - WL X1600 w/20 deg grid shot THROUGH A SHOWER DOOR mounted on a small boom arm in front of the gridded WL
3 - ABR800 ringlfash on camera axis for fill


Nick Arora - nickarora.com Posted 6 years ago. Edited by Nick Arora - nickarora.com (member) 6 years ago
I think we're moving farther and farther away from dan winter's picture in this thread.

if we're going to try to deconstruct his lighting (or recreate it), you have to take account of
1. the fall off on the face
2. the dark shadow under the chin
3. the light shadow on the right of his nose
4. the deep shadow left by his lapel
5. the highlight on his ear
6. the soft background light

anything else, no matter how nice looking, is simply not a deconstruction. Which means your model needs to be wearing a similar jacket and have their ear exposed before you can even begin to give this a shot...
i was just looking through dan winters' portfolio. apparently he did an identical pose and shot of shaya le beuf.
brandonjpro.com 5 years ago
maybe someone should just email him and see if he responds to what his set-up was...just a thought.
dwintersphoto@earthlink.net
John Adkins II 5 years ago
Ok, so I took brandonj74 's advice and emailed Mr. Winters about how he did it. To my surprise and delight, he replied back. I simply asked him if he would mind discussing how he lit his portrait of Tom Hanks and this is what he had to say. I found it pretty darned enlightening and I thought some of you might too. Below is his exact reply to my email. I asked permission to post this in the thread...

"John,

To be honest with you don't remember what I used to light that picture. Probably a profoto head with a grid, a chimera for fill, some flags and a head on background. The picture was shot on a set that we built at at smashbox studios in Culver city. When I started on this particular photograph I had already gone into overtime and Tom's publicist was giving me the evil eye. I was messing around with the lighting while he was in position and he noticed her snarling at me. Under his breath he said to me, "take your time". A gesture like this can really diffuse stress while working under pressure. Tom is a total pro and is well versed at the difficulties in achieving subtle lighting. The same lighting could be achieved using many different types of equipment. Truthfully, with patience and care, it could be achieved using clip lights from Home Depot with 100 watt bulbs, some neutral density filters, some flags and stands. I usually think about the kind of lighting that I want and then think about the best way to approach it on that day. My lighting approach is pretty intuitive. After 25 years as a professional the mystery has abated somewhat but the wonderment is still very much there. One of my great pleasures in life is lighting portraits. I recently went to Hawaii to do a shoot of Eminem and Dre for packaging. When we landed ,
I drove to Home Depot and bought some clip lights, bulbs and some flat white spray paint. I sprayed the inside of the reflectors white, bought some extension cords and went to the recording studio. I had my assistant had hold the lights and I lit the whole shoot in this manner. The real trick to lighting is understanding the physical properties of light. When you really understand them, your only obstacle is your voice, which is infinitely more difficult to master than any lighting set up. thanks for sharing your work. some of it is really beautiful.
Best of luck,
Dan"

What a class act! I was thrilled that he replied ...and so quickly. I also really enjoyed what he had to share about lighting in general. Hope everyone finds this useful.

*
John Adkins II

I love this. So very true and what a nice guy to offer that for you.

Good job on taking initiative to ask.
MOD
wiredfool 5 years ago
He's a class act.
Ian_Hay 5 years ago
My eyes audibly widened to the point of tearing the millisecond I realized what John Adkins had just posted. Un-freakin-believably classy of Dan to offer that up. A photographer's photographer, through and through.

AND, John gets the immense, irreplaceable honour of Dan looking through John's work, and complimenting him on it.

Thanks for this, John!
John Adkins II 5 years ago
You're welcome!

I have to say, I'm still tingly feeling that he even replied and was so detailed and insightful. He totally didn't even have to bother replying back (and I honestly didn't expect him to). Imo he went out of his way just to be kind and courteous.

This instance really solidifies my belief in the mentality of a lot of pros nowadays, who are more than willing to share their skills just so others can benefit from them. This includes people in this very group *ahem* ...you guys know who you are! =) I realize what comes around goes around, but genuine kindness is not something that is rampant these days. It makes me respect the work of these guys even just a bit more.
bwl photography Posted 5 years ago. Edited by bwl photography (member) 5 years ago
really, truly amazing...

at times so much effort goes into dissecting that the art can get lost.

thanks for making the effort John!!

here's hoping that Dan does not open up his email tomorrow morning to find 2000 emails from other Flickr Strobist members asking "what f-stop did you shoot with?" or "what EXACT grid did you use?"

:)

cheers! and again.. thanks John... made my night to read your post.
brettmaxwell 5 years ago
so cool of him to reply!

what does he mean by a "clip light"?

one of these? www.homedepot.com/Lighting-Fans-Worklights/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1...
John Adkins II 5 years ago
Yep, I'm pretty sure that's what he's talking about.
lowflash (Brian) 5 years ago
This makes me like him and his work even more.
Occasionally it come to mind that some experience is worth something.

Dan Winters:
... "Probably a profoto head with a grid, a chimera for fill, some flags and a head on background. ..."

Some clown above:
"...Small head with diffusion close to the background to give what we call a 'spray light'.

Overall ambient with a large softbox or umbrella. High to maintain shadows under chin and jacket lapel. Flagged to create fall off on jacket with flags very close to Hanks.

Grid or soft spot to the camera right - high and aimed a bit down on Hanks to create the soft shadows on nose and lips... slightly brighter than ambient...."


www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157622852349159/...

If you don't know what a chimera is, it is a medium to large softbox.

Of course, there were no 'ringlights' and all...

I think this really does tell me something I have known for a long time, but this really does tell it.

Ya know.
Witty Phrase 5 years ago
John,

Very awesome that you decided to just ask the man and equally as awesome that he replied . I think it speaks volumes about the man that he is truly interested in the craft and not in protecting some secret lighting ratio. And as others have already said (and I'm weeks late to this party, but I did read the whole thread since it was fascinating), your portrait is pretty amazing in and of itself. Slap someone famous in that chair and I suspect very interesting conversations begin to flow!

Hmm...maybe I'll email Dave Hill and ask him to end the flickr debate on how to achieve "The Look." (kidding)
Jim Lafferty 5 years ago
Great. I just found my pea coat and I was going to try this out just as Dan spoiled my fun with the answer! :D
Jim Lafferty 5 years ago
This quote is a keeper and worth repeating:

The real trick to lighting is understanding the physical properties of light. When you really understand them, your only obstacle is your voice, which is infinitely more difficult to master than any lighting set up.
JuanChristophe 5 years ago
Here's my try at it :
Selfportrait à la Dan Winters by JuanChristophe

I guess I ended up with a similar setup as Adkins and I like his result best. Well, me having dark deep eyes, dark hair, and no beard... I was disadvantaged.
rastamansar 5 years ago
Those who said ring flash, flags and bare bulb are most correct.

bensonedgar by rastamansar
thescreamingid 5 years ago
How much do you think post processing plays into this? The skin tones seem very desaturated to me, is that also an effect that can be gathered out of lighting alone? I also am fascinated by this photo..
thescreamingid 5 years ago
here is my attempt

Self Portrait III by thescreamingid
John Adkins II 5 years ago
I think Mr. Winters shot that photo of Tom on film. I could be mistaken but I believe the camera he used and the film give that slightly desaturated look. He could have adjusted it during developing as well.

I tweaked mine a little in Photoshop. Mostly color adjustment and removed a bunch of cat hair from my coat. :)
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